National Pathways Initiative

Last Updated: 03/09/2024

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The National Pathways Initiative is a national coalition of leaders from education, business, government and the Civil Rights Community with a goal to champion high-quality pathways to help students and young adults advance far more seamlessly from K-12 schools through postsecondary education and then to careers and future success.

Announced in January 2023, the national movement is founded in the belief that this paradigm has the potential to create a system that is far more effective and efficient at preparing students for their chosen careers.

The Initiative is advocating common sense solutions to advance pathways from the classroom to college to careers that have bi-partisan support and are already being implemented in states across the political spectrum. The Initiative is developing goals, plans to meet them, institutional partnerships to advance them, and accountability for results.

The National Pathways Coalition is comprised of prominent leaders in sectors vital to this effort, including business, education, government, the civil rights community, nonprofits and students and young adults. These include:

  • Business organizations such as the Business Roundtable, State Business Executives, and U.S. Chamber of Commerce as well as major companies
  • Educational organizations including the Education Commission of the States, the Teachers and Principals Unions, and Pathways innovators like the National Academies Foundation
  • Government, political leaders, and other key federal agencies, leading Democratic and Republican members of Congress, and Governors who have championed pathways initiatives as well as the National Governors Association
  • Leading Civil Rights Organizations including The Education Trust
  • The student/youth voice will be included with the assistance of major youth groups.

The National Pathways formed an Executive Committee to lead the bipartisan reform agenda. Current members (22) are listed here.

The Initiative sponsored a Summit in spring 2023 to advance a vision for a new educational system to incorporate a fundamental shift in the paradigm that has long guided U.S. education and enhance the pathways from the classroom to college to a career.

Policy Recommendations from 2023 Summit

The coalition collected policy recommendations aligned with critical steps that policymakers at all levels could pursue to make the pathways vision a reality, including five core tenets:

  • Making pathways truly seamless by smoothing the transition from the K-12 to postsecondary education and training systems by aligning graduation requirements with the academic and skill needs of postsecondary opportunities, allowing students to earn and transfer early postsecondary credit, and automatically enroll in relevant postsecondary programs.
  • Creating intentional education pathways that are foundationally linked to career exploration and career opportunities by expanding student support and advising, starting career expiration in earlier grades, and actively engaging industry partners in pathways development to ensure the curriculum is aligned to career needs and real-world skillsets.
  • Ensuring all academic pathways offer students experiential learning that allows them to pursue paid apprenticeships and internships, expands infrastructure among employers and school districts for more in-depth work-based learning opportunities for all students regardless of location, and provides increased training opportunities to educators to pursue career-aligned professional development.
  • Holding pathways accountable for effective results for all students, including measuring success through postsecondary enrollment, retention, and completion, investing in and sustaining longitudinal data systems that allow real-time learning and accountability, and aligning CTE programs with high-skill, high-wage, high-demand career pathways.
  • Building equitable pathways by ensuring access and opportunity for all students through expanded financial support for early postsecondary and advanced coursework opportunities, building high-quality wraparound student services, and working to ensure affordable postsecondary opportunities for all learners.
  • Creating robust aligned pathways by grounding pathways in regional industry needs and through deep integration with higher education and training, as well as aligning state education agencies to avoid siloing of policies and data critical for student success.


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